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The Vampire Diaries: 10 Worst Things That Happened To Stefan

It's impossible to lead a trauma-free life in The Vampire Diaries. For Stefan Salvatore, his 150+ years as a vampire leads to plenty of grief and loss that make him the angsty, mysterious stranger Elena falls in love with in the first episode of The Vampire Diaries.

RELATED: 5 Times Stefan Salvatore Was The Hero In The Vampire Diaries (& 5 Times He Was Truly The Villain)

Because it's Mystic Falls – the supernatural epicenter of the United States – few of these upsetting events are the kind that a regular person would experience. However, Stefan's very human emotions make him one of the most relatable characters in the show. He remains kind, compassionate, and strong enough to support his friends through their own trauma, despite the many terrible things that have happened in his life.

10 Breaking Up With Elena

Throughout the first three seasons of The Vampire Diaries, Stefan does pretty much everything for Elena's sake. Even when he goes off the rails, he never loses sight of his love for her – and even manages to fight Klaus' compulsion to protect her.

But everything changes once Elena becomes a vampire. With her feelings for Damon heightened and Stefan unable to accept the new her, the pair drift apart and split. Stefan is extremely hurt, resorting to desperate measures like helping Jeremy kill more vampires to try and get the 'old' Elena back. It's totally out of character, but that just proves how much this shakes him.

9 Meeting Katherine Pierce

From the moment Stefan met Katherine Pierce in 1864, his life was never the same again. Katherine manipulated him to no end, even using compulsion to gain his love and trust while simultaneously entertaining Damon.

RELATED: 10 Scenes In The Vampire Diaries That Prove Katherine & Stefan Were Soulmates

Eventually, this drives a wedge between Stefan and his brother, who had been so close up until that point. What makes Katherine's actions so upsetting is that Stefan's always been a compassionate and true character; he truly didn't deserve to be treated so cruelly by someone who supposedly loved him.

8 Getting Locked In A Safe By Silas

It's hard to believe considering just how many death scenes the show has, but Stefan actually dies more times than any other character in The Vampire Diaries. This is all down to the actions of his doppelgänger, Silas, who forces him into a safe and throws him into a lake at the end of season 4.

For anyone who isn't immortal, this would already be a highly traumatic death. But for Stefan – who can indefinitely come back to life and die all over again – this is months of total torture that leaves him undeniably scarred.

7 Seeing Lexi Get Killed By Damon

Even though Stefan and Lexi aren't related, sometimes they have a stronger relationship than actual brothers Stefan and Damon. The pair first meet when Stefan is a newly-born murderous vampire. Over the next century and a half, Lexi repeatedly pulls him back from the edge and teaches him how to control his instincts.

Yet this incredibly pure bond ends in disaster. Damon needlessly kills Lexi in front of Stefan as part of his master plan to save Katherine. As if this personal betrayal isn't enough, Damon's plan ends up being for nothing – Katherine isn't in the tomb, and there was no need for Lexi to die. Without her, Stefan is left friendless and totally hopeless in the face of his bloodlust.

6 Watching Elena Die

Respecting Elena's choices is just one of the many ways Stefan is a good boyfriend. However, putting her choices above his own ultimately leads to Elena's death and transition to vampirism when he does what she asks and saves Matt's life over hers.

Although it's never shown on screen, the implication is that he returns to pull Elena from the car wreck in the river beneath Wickery Bridge and discovers he is too late. When viewers next see him, he's stood – wracked with guilt – over her body in the morgue. Not only is he forced to watch his worst nightmare become a reality, but he knows that he is partially responsible.

5 Losing Damon In 1864

Before they became vampires, Stefan and Damon were just two brothers growing up without a mother in Virginia. Seven years older than Stefan, flashback episodes of The Vampire Diaries show how Damon was his best friend and role model until vampirism tore them apart.

Although Damon was reluctant to be a vampire without Katherine in their lives, Stefan pushed him to drink blood and complete the transition. Damon vowed to make his life a living hell in revenge, and thus began a century-and-a-half-long feud. Stefan proves repeatedly that he would die for Damon, and vice versa and the absence of this positive relationship for such a long time left a difficult hole to fill.

4 His Deal With Klaus

When Damon is bitten by Tyler Lockwood, he begins a slow descent into the madness that preludes death from a werewolf bite. It seems nothing can save him, until Stefan discovers that, as a hybrid, Klaus can use his blood to save him. He offers to hand it over, but on one condition – Stefan leaves town with him.

RELATED: 5 Times Klaus Mikaelson Proved He Was The Villain In The Vampire Diaries (& Times He Was Actually The Hero)

Because Stefan is Stefan and he'll do anything for his brother, he agrees. This proves to be a catalyst for plenty of drama. Not only is Stefan pushed back onto a course of bloodlust and no humanity, but leaving Elena is the beginning of the end of their relationship. Nothing is ever quite the same between the two again, changing Stefan's life forever.

3 Stefan's 10 Year Killing Spree

The Stefan audiences meet in season 1 is worlds away from the Stefan once known as the Ripper of Monterey. Unable to control his bloodlust, he spent over 10 years slaughtering his way through North America – including a stint with Klaus and Rebekah in the 1920s – until Lexi pulled him back from the edge.

Even though Stefan recovers from his ripper phase, the shame lives with him forever. Even in the midst of his bloodlust, he can't help but record the names of his victims and helplessly try to put their bodies back together. Once his humanity switch is back on, these feelings only become harder to handle – with Stefan still struggling to process them over 80 years later.

2 Dying After His Wedding To Caroline

Fans are split on whether Caroline and Stefan were soulmates or not, but everyone can agree that their relationship didn't deserve to end so tragically. Right after the pair are married, Stefan sacrifices himself to the hellfire to save Damon and give him the chance to one day reunite with Elena.

Stefan went through so much trauma in his life to earn a happy ending, making it all the more heart-wrenching that it's cut short so quickly. Even though it's his choice, and he ends up finding peace and reuniting with Lexi, it isn't the respite he deserved.

1 He Becomes A Vampire

Stefan spends nearly all of TVD as a vampire, with his human self mostly seen in flashbacks. However, it's pretty clear that Stefan was never born to be a vampire. His moral compass is too strong, yet he can't handle bloodlust and is a natural ripper – a combination his conscience struggles to balance.

Although becoming a vampire is what allows him to live long enough to meet both Elena and Caroline, it's also what leads to nearly all of the traumatic events in Stefan's life. Humanity means a lot to Stefan, and he would've faced far less pain if he'd just lived out a regular human existence in the 1800s.

NEXT: 10 Worst Things That Happened To Elena In The Vampire Diaries

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